“We are just 6 years away from the digital explosion,” said Arnab Goswami, President (News) and Editor-in-Chief of Times Now and ET Now. Goswami was part of an informal Q&A at the Twitter-organized #risewithtwitter event in Mumbai yesterday. The role of interviewer was undertaken by Rishi Jaitley, Head (India) of Twitter.
Goswami gave his thoughts on a variety of issues, including Times Now’s social media philosophy, the role of the digital medium in media and journalism and the future of the digital medium.
“My entire philosophy is to disrupt the way news works, disrupt traditional ways of thinking, disrupt traditional morals,” he said.
Speaking about the success Times Now has got with its social media activities, he said, “Not only we do strike a conversation but we create a conversation that is fairly strong and has led to a lot of people following us.”
Giving a personal experience about the power of social media, he gave the example of the recent #LalitGate story that was broken by Times Now.
“We owned the story using the hashtag #lalitgate. It is not Lalit scandal or anything else but #Lalitgate. Wherever I am going, people are only talking about one thing these days and that is #lalitgate and they are talking about the phrase, which has become a hashtag. I think that is phenomenal. I cannot remember any other incident where one channel’s expose has become a talking point in this manner,” he said.
Giving the example of the earlier Commonwealth Games scam story, he said that the difference between the two was that there was no Twitter or social media back when that story came out. “I feel somewhere the response of people is becoming quicker and people are engaging more strongly with my content because the idea is getting disseminated quickly; it is getting viral quickly,” he added.
Times Now’s #Lalitgate tweets have received more than 40,000 impressions in the last 16 days but Goswami says that he does not get distracted by the data. “I am a pure journalist and I focus on my work. A journalist, a writer, we like to operate in our own shell. For me it is important to internalize. As a journalist if I focus on my work, my craft will be more relevant to others. For example, last elections we used a hashtag #may16withArnab. I find it interesting to distinguish my product from others,” he said.
Though he considers himself a digital evangelist, he also cautions that the digital explosion is still a few years in the future. “I am a realist. TV gets me an audience 5x more than digital. The point of convergence will be somewhere around 2020-2022 when digital audience will be as big as TV, but most of the conversations in India are being driven by TV. But for those who do not have a television medium to evangelize, Twitter is very, very good,” he added.
Explaining his thoughts on the coming digital explosion, he said that it would happen when the digital natives; the people born during the digital era become the principal bread earners of the family since they will have been exposed to the mobile phone from a young age.
“With TV and digital working in a complimentary fashion, can you imagine how powerful it will be?. As of today, we have the reach. If you overestimate digital you will think that a story on digital will have the same reach as TV but if you underestimate it then you will never use digital,” he opined.